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Nursing Homes 


nursing home is a residence that provides a room, meals, help with 
daily living, and recreational activities. Generally, nursing home 
residents have health problems which keep them from living on their 
own and may require daily medical attention. 


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good decisions 

Choosing a nursing home is an important decision. To make the best decision possible, you may 
want to consider some important facts: 

Payment - Nursing home care is expensive 
and many people are concerned about paying 
for this type of care. Most care is not fiilly 
paid for by health insurance. For instance: 

• Medicare - Medicare only pays for some 
nursing home costs, generally only when 
you need skilled nursing services. These 
are full time nursing services that can only 
be performed by a licensed nurse. 

• Medicaid - Medicaid is a State and Federal 
program. You must have limited income or 
assets to have nursing home costs covered. 
Eligibility and benefits for Medicaid vary 
from State to State. 

• Long-Term Care and Other Private 
Insurance - Long-term care insurance can 
help pay for skilled nursing care or custodial 
care by paying a cash amount for each day 
of covered nursing home or at-home care. 
You can buy other types of private insurance 
that help cover nursing home care costs 
from insurance companies, but these plans 
may have coverage or payment limits. 

Availability - Nursing homes have a limited 
number of beds. A certain number of those 
beds may be for persons with a specific type of 
insurance (like Medicare or Medicaid). When 
you find a nursing home you like, you should 
find out if there will be a bed available for you, 
or if you can add your name to a waiting list. 

Reputation - Some nursing homes do a better 
job at providing care than others. If you are 
interested in a specific nursing home, you may 
want to talk with the Long-Term Care 
Ombudsman for the State where the nursing 
home is located. The Ombudsman can't 
recommend which nursing home to choose, but 
can give you tips on what to look for when you 
visit a nursing home. 

Location - Location is very important. If you 
choose a nursing home that is close to your 
friends and family, they may be able to visit 
you more often, and you may feel less lonely. 
Also, they can act as your advocate (supporter), 
if you need one. 

Another important thing you can do is visit the 
nursing home you are interested in and talk 
with current or former residents and their 
family members to see if they are happy with 
the care they received from the nursing home. 

Staffing - It is important that the people who 
work in a nursing home are capable of 
performing their duties. This helps ensure that 
the residents are cared for and enjoy a good 
quality of life. During a visit to a nursing 
home, see if people on the staff: 

• Treat the residents and family members with 
warmth and respect. 

• Answer resident requests for assistance 

Resident Rights - Nursing home residents have 
patient rights and certain protections under the 
law. The nursing home must list and give all 
new residents a copy of these rights. 

Resident rights usually include: 

• Respect - You have the right to be treated with 
dignity and respect. 

• Services and Fees -You must be informed in 
writing about services and fees before you 
enter the nursing home. 

• Money - You have the right to manage your 
own money or to choose someone else you 
trust to do this for you. 

• Privacy - You have the right to privacy, and to 
keep and use your personal belongings and 
property as long as it doesn't interfere with 
the rights, health, or safety of others. 

• Medical Care - You have the right to be 
informed about your medical condition, 
medications, and to see your own doctor. You 
also have the right to refuse medications and 




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Where To Get More Information 

H Check the Internet at A 
new database called "Nursing Home 
Compare" contains information and survey 
findings on every Medicare and Medicaid 
certified nursing home in the country. You 
can also see the Guide to Choosing a Nursing 
Home. If you don't have a computer, contact 
your local library or senior center for help. 

S The Long-Term Care Ombudsman is an 
advocate (supporter) for nursing home 
residents and is ready to help if you need 
information on the nursing homes in your 
State. The Ombudsman also works to help 
solve problems between you or your family 
and the nursing home. Complaints about 
nursing homes are confidential unless the 
Ombudsman has permission to use your 
name. Look on the Nursing Home Compare 
database at for the 
Ombudsman phone number in your State. 

W State survey agencies do yearly surveys (like 
inspections) of every Medicare or Medicaid 
certified nursing home in your State and 
identify any problem areas. Survey agencies 
are responsible for making sure that nursing 
homes follow Federal guidelines. If they 
don't, nursing homes can be fined or closed. 
You may want to check with your State's 
survey agency regarding any current or past 
complaint investigations. If you have a 
complaint about the quality of life or quality 
of care inside a nursing home, contact your 
State's survey agency. Look on the Nursing 
Home Compare database at for the State survey 
agency phone number in your State. 

S If you qualify, or think you may qualify for 
Medicaid, call your State Medical Assistance 
Office. Look under "State Contact 
Information" for the 
State Medical Assistance Office phone 
number in your State. 

For more information on Long-Term Care 
Insurance, call your State Health Insurance 
Assistance Program, or write to: National 
Association of Insurance Commissioners, 
Publications Dept., 2301 McGee Street, Suite 
800, Kansas City, MO 64108 and request a 
free copy of^ Shopper's Guide to Long-Term 
Care Insurance .